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Trending: Call for Papers Volume 3 | Issue 2: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Daughters Right to Property under Hindu Succession Act, 1956: Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma Case Analysis 2020


Introduction to The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 speaks about succession and inheritance of property. This Act also takes into consideration and deals with testamentary or intestate succession. It applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. When the Hindu Succession Act was enacted in the year 1956, the parliamentarians did not feel any need for giving equal rights to the daughters in the coparcenary property of the father as they believed that the daughter will be a part of another family after her marriage and should not have right to inherit anything from her father’s property. This Act states that there are two kinds of property, which are the ancestral property and self-acquired property. The ancestral property refers to the property which is inherited up to three generations after the holder of the male lineage and should have remained undivided throughout this period. After the 2005 amendment, be it a daughter or a son, an equal share in such property was accrued by birth itself. The self-acquired property refers to the property which a coparcener has acquired by his hard work. 

Changes brought by The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005: Section 6

The major drawback of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was that it did not give the females, i.e. the widow, daughters, and wife, the coparcenary right in the property. Thus, The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 was introduced, and it addressed various gender inequalities which were not discussed in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, and made provisions that gave equal rights to daughters as a coparcener. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 made changes in Section 6 of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Section 6 of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, talks about the ‘Rule of Survivorship’, which is that an ancestral property will pass from the holder of it to his male lineal descendants only, and males will only be considered as coparceners. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 was enacted on 9th September 2005. The changes introduced were-

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created provisions for daughters to be a coparcener having equal rights as a son. It amended the provision which excluded daughters from being a coparcener and enjoying their coparcenary property. 

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created provisions for daughters to be equally liable in the property matters.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created a provision that stated that a daughter should also enjoy the position of a coparcener since birth in the same manner as the son does.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created a provision that stated that a daughter should be allotted the coparcenary property as is allotted to sons if a Hindu ancestor dies.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created a provision that stated that a daughter should be entitled to demand and claim a partition of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) property.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created a provision that stated that a daughter should be entitled to dispose off her share in the coparcenary property at her own will. 

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 created a provision that stated that if a female coparcener dies before the partition of the property, then her children would be eligible for the property assuming that the partition had taken place immediately before her death.
Illustration

‘A’ is the great grandfather, who owns the ancestral property, and ‘W’ is his wife. ‘A’ and ‘W’ have one son ‘S1’ and one daughter ‘D1’; one grandson ‘S2’, one granddaughter ‘D2’, one great-grandson ‘S3’, one great-granddaughter ‘D3’, one great-great-grandson ‘S4’, and one great-great-granddaughter ‘D4’. All these people are the members of a Joint Hindu Family. But who is a coparcener? Coparceners are the members of the family who can claim their right on the ancestral property.
Before the 2005 Amendment

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 stated that only the members who are of the lineal descendants of the same ancestry in the male lineage. Thus, as per the above illustration, the coparceners are ‘A’ the holders of the ancestral property, his son ‘S1’, his grandson ‘S2’, and his great-grandson ‘S3’. In case ‘A’ dies, then great-great-grandson ‘S4’ will also become a coparcener.
After the 2005 Amendment

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 states that as per the above illustration, the coparceners of the ancestral property will be divided among class 1 relatives, class 2 relatives, class 3 relatives, class 4 relatives equally. In case there is no one in class 1 relative, then only the property passes to class 2 relatives and so on. So if ‘A’ dies the ancestral property will be given to his wife ‘W’, his son‘S1’, and his daughter ‘D2’ equally. 

The confusion in The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted on the 9th of September 2005. So the confusion was that “If the father passed away before 9th of September 2005 still the amendment would be valid and the daughter will be considered as a coparcener and receive her share in the coparcenary property?”
Prakash v. Phulavati (2016),

In this case, the Bench comprised of Justice Anil Dave and Justice A.K. Goyal. The Supreme Court held that if the father has passed away before the 9th of September 2005, then the daughter cannot claim her right to be a coparcener. The property would only go to the living daughter of the living father. Hence, the father has to be alive for the daughter to be a coparcener.
Danamma v. Amar Singh (2018),

In this case, the Bench consisted of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan. The Supreme Court held that if the father has passed away before the 9th of September 2005, then also the daughter can claim her right to be a coparcener. Hence, the father need not be alive for the daughter to be a coparcener.

After the judgement of Prakash v. Phulavati and Danamma v. Amar, there was confusion as to which judgement is to be followed and how to interpret Section 6 of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Case Law: Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 2020

The confusion created after the delivery of the judgement of Prakash v. Phulavati and Danamma v. Amar was cleared after this case.

In this case, the Bench comprised of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Abdul Nazeer, and Justice M.R. Shah. The Supreme Court held that the right of a daughter in the ancestral property is from her birth just like a son and is not affected by the living and demise of her father. Thus, even if the father has died before the 9th of September 2005, still a daughter can claim her right to be a coparcener and enjoy her coparcenary property.
Timeline of Hindu succession

Before, 1956 Act
The Hindus were governed by Shastric and Customary laws from one region to another.

Sometimes these laws varied in the same region based on the caste system. 

After, 1956 Act (1956 – 2005)
All the laws were codified as The Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

The ancestral property was distributed by the ‘Rule of Survivorship’ as per the provisions of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
‘Rule of Survivorship’ is that an ancestral property will pass from the holder of it to his male lineal descendants only, and males will only be considered as coparceners.

Women were not recognised as coparceners as per the provisions of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (2005 – 2015)

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 amended Section 6 of The Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 abrogated the ‘Rule of Survivorship.

Succession was termed either testamentary or intestate under which daughters were given recognition as coparceners.

Prakash v. Phulavati (2016)

The father will have to be alive on the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 for daughters to become a coparcener.

Daughters can only claim their coparcenary property if the father was alive on the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

Danamma v. Amar Singh (2018)

The father need not necessarily be alive on the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 for daughters to become a coparcener.

Daughters could claim their coparcenary property even if the father were dead before the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma (2020)

The Supreme Court disagreed with the Prakash v. Phulavati case and agreed with the Danamma v. Amar Singh case.
The father need not necessarily be alive on the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 for daughters to become a coparcener.
Daughters could claim their coparcenary property even if the father were dead before the enactment of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

The daughters have their right in the ancestral property since birth as they are a coparcener since birth in the same manner as a son.

Conclusion 

Hence, now after the recent judgement is delivered, the daughter enjoys the same coparcenary right as the son does since birth irrespective of the fact that the father was alive or dead on the 9th of September 2005, i.e. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 was enacted. 
References

https://www.relakhs.com/ancestral-property-legal-rules/
https://blog.finology.in/recent-updates/daughters-right-to-property
http://www.ascentsolutions.in/Blogs.aspx
Image Credits https://images.app.goo.gl/RXscm4qCwCz861bWA

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